Tom Hom

Honorary Degrees

San Diego

Tom Hom was born nearly 95 years ago in San Diego Chinatown when much of American society was segregated, socially and economically. He learned from his father at an early age that civic engagement leads to change. As he grew older, he faced limited job opportunities and discrimination in housing but never lost faith in the American Dream.

He eventually made San Diego history by becoming the first Asian American and first minority ever elected to the San Diego City council in 1963. Five years later, he ran and won a seat in the California State Assembly, making him the second Asian to serve at the CA State Assemble.

Working alongside Ronald Reagan, Mr. Hom focused on issues to help disadvantaged groups. He authored the Compensatory Education Bill that benefited minority students and students who learned English as a second language. At the time, it was the largest educational bill of its kind in the history of the United States.  

Among his many contributions, Mr. Hom helped transform San Diego's skid row into the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter Historic District and the San Diego Asian Pacific Historical Thematic District. He led efforts to establish the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum and chaired the task force to help build, at the time, the San Diego Stadium. He was named ‘Mr. San Diego 2014’ by the Rotary Club and built affordable housing in San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix. He is regarded as a community leader and has a long and outstanding community service record, including generous philanthropic support and volunteerism for the SDSU Chinese Cultural Center. 

In recognition of his civic, business and community leadership over the last six decades, the Board of Trustees for the California State University and the San Diego State University are proud to confer upon Tom Hom the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.